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December 15, 2018

The Latest on Media Time Spent, Reach and Media Usage from Nielsen

Nielsen’s Total Audience Report always provides a valuable snapshot of the current state of media consumption, particularly regarding TV and video. The latest report, for the second quarter of 2018, is no exception. We encourage readers to take a closer look themselves, but here are a few highlights.

Time Spent
In the second quarter 2018, the average adult spent 10 hours and 24 minutes with various media; TV, as usual, took the lion’s share. It’s worth noting that Nielsen’s numbers do not include print media, which we estimate would likely add another half-hour to 45 minutes to the total. Of particular interest are the differences in overall time spent by demographics, which were as follows:


Here we see that young adults consume significantly less media daily than the total adult population, as do Asian Americans. It should be noted that the figures for Asian Americans did not include radio, but even if they consumed radio on a level with the total adult population (1:45), this would only raise their levels to about the same levels as 18-34s. Young adults also demonstrated a fairly even distribution across the media, with 31% of their daily time spent with live+time shifted TV and TV connected devices and 39% with internet and apps. As is typical, the balance shifts more to TV (in all its forms) with the older age groups. Interestingly, radio appeals equally across all age groups, with 15-18% of time spent devoted to this medium.

Nielsen’s second quarter 2018 data shows that reach is radio’s strong point; the medium reached 92% of adults 18+ in a week. And it’s holding strong with teens as well, 86% of whom are reached by radio weekly. Live+time shifted TV comes in a close second, at 87%, followed by app/web on a smartphone at 78%. Among younger and middle-aged adults (18-49), smartphone app/web usage reach is on par with or exceeds TV reach.

Simultaneous Media Usage
Nielsen explored the issue of simultaneous media usage, particularly between TV and digital, and found that only 27% of respondents claimed to “rarely” or “never” watch TV and use a digital device simultaneously. Nielsen touts the synergistic aspect of simultaneous usage, citing that 71% of respondents have looked up information related to the content and 35% have shopped for a product or service being advertised. But of course this is a “have you ever?” question, which doesn’t tell us much about respondents’ regular usage. We suspect that plenty of people are on social media, browsing online, checking emails, etc. when less-than-engaging programming is on TV.

A Look at Non-TV Homes

According to Nielsen, approximately 4% of all U.S. homes do not have a TV set that can access content via a cable set-top box, satellite, telco or an antenna. Instead, more than 80% of these homes find alternate means to view TV/video content, with 30% watching TV away from home, and 27% using a computer, 10% a smartphone and 6% a tablet.

The two main reasons given for not having a working TV set are not being able to afford it (23%) and not being interested in TV shows (18%).  

Overall, non-TV homes are much more likely to be in the lowest income category and to have a single resident. It comes as no surprise that homes headed by a Millennial account for 46% of these non-TV households. Only 18% of Millennial households claim to have operational TV sets.


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